Человек с рублем Михаила Ходорковского и Леонида Невзлина

Это, конечно, книга крушения надежд и идеалов.

Узнал я про ее существование (запоздал на 20 лет, надо сказать) из совместного труда МБХ и Натальи Геворкян про тяжелую судьбу главного опального олигарха родины, а также мысли его о судьбах Рассеи. Тяжелые мысли однако.

Как вы, наверное, догадываетесь, купить такой труд сейчас ну просто невозможно, поэтому я его, хм, ну вы понимаете.

Ох, дурно мне, дурно. Как бы так вкратце-то сказать? Нагорная проповедь одних из главных нэпманов начала 90-х, вот.

С одной стороны, за редкими исключениями, с идеологической стороны этой книжке позавидует Алиса Розенбаум и Рон Пол. Ибо оба 30-тилетих товарища мнят себя всей троицей учеников доктора Akston'a в одном лице, со всеми вытекающими отсюда. Libertarian 101, и не помогут не пожарные, ни милиция. Книжка идеологически чистых лозунгов, которые можно разобрать на цитаты – причем от нынешних Facebook libertarian feeds она не отличается ничем, включая даже gun ownership support.

Не согласен я только с их подходом к религии – но и он-то обоснован только тем, что вон СССР был против – ну а мы, значит, мы “за”. В общем, в терминах Miscrosoft, евангелисты капитализма прямо-таки.

С другой, а особенно после прочтения Тюрьмы и воли, этот труд вызывает легкую депрессию. Во-первых, потому что сам МБХ (про Невзлина не знаю) в последние 10 лет занял строго противоположный, я бы сказал, левацкий вектор – был бы на воле, место ему на Occupy Wall St, а не в списке Форбс. Ну а во-вторых, вся наша жизнь за эти двадцать лет так поменялась (сложно сказать, к какому – наверное, не совсем к худшему), что идеалы эти, кажется, стали еще дальше, чем были. А неплохие идеалы, в основном.

Ну и напоследок – она, конечно, чудовищно и непоправимо морально устарела. Все эти цитаты из советских книжек в кавычках, список источников, анекдоты из армянского радио – это все сейчас вызывает прямо-таки неконтролируемое умиление. Необязательно было ее читать от корки до корки, но вот, за четыре месяца набегами осилил-таки.

Цитат отметил так много в kindle, что даже не знаю, что бы такое сюда добавить. Добавлю пару веселых фраз – друзья-банкиры поймут.

Мы были бы никуда негодными банкирами, если бы интересовались паспортными данными, анкетами и источником финансового благополучия наших вкладчиков. Мы – учреждение сугубо коммерческое, а не сыскное, дознавателями как не были, так и не будем. Мы платим налоги, которые идут и на содержание правоохранительных органов. Их функции – ловить преступников, готовить доказательства для суда, решение которого о конфискации того или иного вклада имеет силу закона.

Какая разница между нами и Сбербанком? Сила Сбербанка в печатном станке, наша – в недвижимости, которая является залогом того, что мы не обманем своих акционеров.

“У нас, – писала та же “Неделя”, – как-то замалчивалось, что в минувшее десятилетие в Штатах прижился лозунг “жадность – это прекрасно!” Поощряется страсть к деньгам, накопительству, дух соперничества – у кого на счету больше. С нашей, пуританской точки зрения, пропаганда жадности не очень приветствуется. Отбросим в сторону нравственность, зайдем с другой стороны: именно стремление жить в полном соответствии с этим лозунгом стимулировало взлет экономики, рост общественного и личного богатства. От лозунга – выгода, он себя полностью окупил – значит, по мнению деловой Америки, он полностью себя оправдал, следовательно, он морален.

И все-таки одно издание мы выделили бы особо, думаем, оно бы победило на конкурсе “Книга десятилетия”. Жаль, что у него мизерный тираж, всего четыреста тысяч.

 

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Street Smarts by Jim Rogers

Loved it. Thoughtful, full of life and market insight, and good humor. I haven't read Rogers' previous books – maybe I will now – but for me, apart from the free markets libertarian background (most quite in line with Ron Paul, I would say), it made me think about children.

Rogers' bold move of moving his family to Singapore and putting his daughters to study Mandarin practically from birth makes you think whether English classes for your two year old are enough. Shall I put my children to study Mandarin as well? Hm.

Another thing – as a true value investor, he keeps thinking of how to invest in Myanmar and North Korea. In that discussion, he mentions Cuban real estate in a short paragraph. Given my well known love for La Isla de Libertad, and my bet that they will let the US in this or next decade latest, should I buy a piso or casa there? Puzzled and thinking. Hm.

If you were smart at the start of the nineteenth century, you made your way to London. If you were smart at the start of the twentieth, you packed up and moved to New York. If you are smart at the start of the twenty-first, you will find your way to Asia

They wanted to do what I did, they told me, and asked me what they should be studying. Study philosophy, I said, study history. No, no, no, they said, they wanted to work in the City; they wanted to be rich. If that were the case, I answered, they should stay away from the City, because it would soon be a backwater again. Finance is over, I told them. Study agriculture instead. If they wanted to be rich, I advised, they should all become farmers.

When governments run out of money, they do not stop spending. It was no different two thousand years ago than it is today. Politicians know no bounds. If Rome was running out of silver, if its economy was being mismanaged and it was running trade deficits, the only way to keep the good times rolling was to create more money. Think of Ben Bernanke in a toga. Adulterate the coinage, crank up the printing press – only the technology changes. Governments keep running out of money, and as long as that happens, bureaucrats and politicians will keep coming up with ways to create it.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety”, said Benjamin Franklin, “deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

 


End the Fed by Ron Paul

Out of US presidential candidates, Ron Paul is my obvious pick. Smart, thorough, libertarian to the bone. A vivid supporter of sound money and less intrusive state, something that really doesn't fly in today's America.

This book is all-out rage against the Fed a.k.a. the US central bank, and all central banks in general. A strong believer in gold standard, Congressman Paul rightfully says that printing fiat money out of thin air allows the State to grow exponentially, limit personal liberties, take a socialist-fascist-corporatist-you-name-it turn, act unreasonably, and fund pricey wars.

And all of this, at the expense of an ordinary citizen, whose savings are literally stolen through inflation. In a sense, central banking is no different from counterfeiting – does it really matter who prints the new shiny bills, if your money loses in value? Well, turns out quite few people want to see this link between lost savings and Fed policy – a good example in my previous post.

Anyway, it's an easy 200-page read that sums up many concepts that I hold dear to my mind heart. Well, who is John Galt Ron Paul?

 

Imagine an irresponsible teenager with an unlimited line of credit. The parents, teachers, pastors, and authorities in his life are ultimately powerless to change his habits. Now imagine that teenager armed to the teeth and also immune even from the rule of law. That is what we have with a government backed by a central bank.

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Following creation of the Fed, the government would discover other uses for an elastic money supply aside from keeping the banking system from defaulting on its obligations. It would prove useful in funding war. It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking. When governments had to fund their own wars without a paper money machine to rely upon, they economized on resources. They found diplomatic solutions to preven war, and after they started a war they ended it as soon as possible.

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Greenspan’s claim, in an answer to one of my questions, was that the central bankers essentially had become smart enough to achieve all the benefits of the gold standard without its limitations. Of course, it’s the limitations that are so valuable, and the reason the gold standard is so important to a free society. These thoughts he stated brilliantly in his own historic article, “Gold and Economic Freedom”:

In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits as silver or copper or any other good and thereafter decline to accept checks as payments for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-credited bank credit would be worthless as claims on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.

This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.

According to his own logic, Greenspan had simply become a statist.

 


Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, illustrated by Joseph Remnant

It's been a while since I read American Splendor, a while since I saw the movie. Not a huge fan of Harvey's, but given that he passed away in 2010, decided to read his last book.

Never been to Cleveland, probably never will be – for me, it's just a cityname with no strings attached to it. Much more for Harvey, I guess, even though he doesn't sound mad about it.

The book feels like it was written by an old fellow, tired and weary. Well, Harvey has never been a raving optimist. First he spills some city history (still don't get why), and then gives some bits of his life on fast forward.

The most interesting thing about the book though, in yours truly humblest opinion, are his whinings about the depreciating dollar and a working man's savings lost. Here, miraculously, Harvey is fully aligned with the honorable Ron Paul, whose End The Fed manifesto I am reading in parallel. The libertarian economist and a hospital clerk are pissed about the same thing – nasty inflation that steals people's savings and makes retirement a scary thing (picture 4).

In his solution (picture 5), though, Harvey deviates from the renowned GOP candidate and comes to a crooked conclusion – instead of advocating for sound money, he places vain hopes in Monsier Obama and in new taxes – taxes spent by the “yes, we can” president in a way that does little but pumps the inflation spiral further. Oh well, what would you expect – ordinary men tend to like the idea of socialism, wrongfully, as they will be paying for it as well.